Do you want to know how to avoid disappointing book marketing results?
Listen as marketing expert, Kathryn Calhoun shares how to stop spinning your wheels with the techie stuff with your online business.
In this week's powerful episode "How to Avoid Disappointing Book Marketing Results" you will discover..
Welcome to Book Marketing Mentors, the weekly podcast, where you learn proven strategies, tools, ideas, and tips from the masters. Every week, I introduce you to a marketing master who will share their expertise to help you market and sell more books. Today, my special guest is Kathryn Calhoun, for almost two decades Kathryn has been teaching coaches and entrepreneurs how to stop spinning their wheels with the techie stuff in their online businesses. Her signature community, the Clarity Momentum Success Mastermind for Solopreneurs is devoted to showing you how to DIY a simple, successful online business on a super shoestring budget, even if you're not a techie. I recently heard Kathryn speak at an event that I attended and was absolutely blown away by her simple and practical approach. And of course, I knew she'd make an excellent guest. Kathryn, what an absolute pleasure it is to welcome you to the show. And thank you for being this week's guest expert and mentor.
Kathryn Calhoun: Susan, thank you so much for having me. It's an honor to be asked.
Kathryn, from a conversation just prior to the show, you were talking about the fact that you work with entrepreneurs and that books are something that you feel are so important in terms of building their credibility in the marketplace. But I know that you have some thoughts about mistakes that authors make when it comes to literally marketing their book. I know that's something that we have in common, but I'd love to hear what you feel are the biggest mistakes these authors make.
Books are an awesome credibility piece. One of the ways that you can jumpstart your credibility as an entrepreneur, if you haven't had clients yet, you are still working on establishing your branding, a book is a really great way to immediately cement your expert status even if you're still just getting started with your business. I love that part of it. But the problem is that when it comes to marketing your book, what I see a lot of entrepreneurs doing is they don't realize that the marketing part of their book actually has to start before the book is published. What I mean by that is so often entrepreneurs will go, "Okay, I'm having trouble getting clients." This is actually a road that I went down as well before I became an online business coach. I had started a wedding blog. I was engaged. I was very excited about all the wedding planning stuff. I also had this entrepreneurial spirit and I was like, "I'm going to start a blog about how brides can plan weddings on a budget. And I'm going to make money from this blog by advertising on this blog."
So I put this website up, nobody came to it. I wasn't making any money. Then I was like, "Well, it must be because I don't have any credibility." Because this is a totally new market for me. So I decided I was going to write a book. I wrote a book called The Alternative Bride's Guide to Wedding Games, it's available on Amazon. The thing that I missed was I just thought just having this book was going to all of a sudden, somehow magically make all of these brides flock to my website. We have this idea as entrepreneurs, that the movie Field of Dreams, there's that if you build it, they will come. That phrase comes from that movie, I think.
As entrepreneurs, we often have this idea that if we put something together, people are automatically going to find it somehow. And that can be a book, that can be a website, that can be a course you put together, it can be a social media profile that you create where like, I'm going to put it out there. And then somehow people are going to magically find it. And it's a problem that pervades the whole online marketing industry with books. It's the worst because books are so much work to put together, the writing and the editing and the layout and the self-publishing and the cover design. There are all of these different elements that go into [inaudible 00:04:05] a book. It can take months and sometimes years to put a book together, depending on how long the writing part takes you.
So the big mistake that I really see with books especially is going okay, "Well, I'm going to put this book together. It's going to be this lovely credibility piece for me. And then somehow that's going to help explode my business." And a variant of that is when authors are hoping to really make a great big income, purely from the sales of their book. I mean, it can happen. It's rare that it happens. One of the things that I like to see entrepreneurs doing instead, or authors doing instead is to really start to think through that marketing piece before the book is ever published because there are some very simple things that you can do so that while people are reading your book... The last thing you want is for them to flip through your book go well, that was interesting. And put it on the bookshelf and never look at it again.
What you really want people to do is to flip through your book, go, "Wow, this is interesting." And then be inspired to take the next step with you so that you can start to use the book as a platform, to deepen relationships with people, have them go from readers to clients, and get to keep that journey going with them, instead of again, just having it be this lovely credibility piece that you poured your heart and soul and wallet and time and energy and everything into, and then it just ends up collecting dust on somebody's shelf.
So let's talk about that next step because that's really important. And I know that I'd said to you earlier, that we're singing out of the same hymnbook because it's absolutely true. The time, energy, money, and blood, sweat, and tears as I call it, nothing comes of it. You think, as you rightly said, build it and they will come, but it doesn't happen. There's this sort of delusion and this frustration. And it's like, "Oh my goodness. I went through all this effort and nothing's happening." So it was just unrealistic. So let's talk about that next.
I just want to say the piece about it being unrealistic too, is like, I couldn't agree with you more. Also, it's so heartbreaking. You have this hope that your book is just going to somehow magically sell and magically bring people to you, and it doesn't work out. The fact that it doesn't work actually isn't even the worst part. The worst part is what it does to us as business owners, entrepreneurs, as authors. What I have seen over and over is people coming to me and going, "I don't think I'm cut out for this. I thought I had this good idea, but nobody's interested. And maybe I'm in the wrong market. Maybe I need a different ideal client. Maybe my whole business idea sucks. Maybe I'm not cut out to be an entrepreneur. My writing is terrible." Most of the time, none of that is the problem. It's simply a marketing issue.
To me that's the worst part is when you start to get demoralized as the CEO of your business, as the heart and soul of your business. You need to be your own best cheerleader. And when you start to rack up these things that feel like failures, even though they're not failures, but if they feel that way, you start to think you're not cut out for this. And really all you need are some super simple shifts. So as far as that next question that you asked me about, I want to make sure to answer that too, of course. The most important thing is before your book is published before your book is laid out, while you're still in the writing phase, you want to start to think through what is the next step that people are going to want to take with me? What is the natural next step that people are going to identify for themselves as they're reading my book?
For example, let's say you write a book about winter gardening, and then you want to think through, "Okay, so my people are reading this book about winter gardening. What's the next question that they're going to have? What's the next step that they're going to want to take?" You get to just play with that idea and think through some things that they might want from you. It could be maybe there's a spring guide. Maybe there's cleaning up your flowerbeds in the fall guide. Maybe it's putting together a course on year-round gardening or indoor gardening or something. As the expert, you get to think through what it is that your people are going to want from you. And then when you sort of pre-think out what the next step is, then you get to reverse engineer the information that gets put in your book to be able to inspire people to take that next step.
That's where the tech stuff starts to come in. And if you're listening to this and you're not techie, don't worry. This is my whole jurisdiction. My whole specialty is keeping the tech really, really simple, especially if you're not a super techie person. So I don't want you to stress about that, at least not right now. The idea is, and in marketing terms, we call this a call to action. The idea is to sprinkle calls to action throughout your book, and all a call to action is asking somebody to take the next step with you. It's asking somebody to take an action. So it's like, if you were interested in this, here's another resource that you can check out and if it's okay, Susan, I can do a little call to action right now just to give people an example.
Susan Friedmann: Absolutely. You go for it.
Okay. So let's just pretend that you're reading this interview between Susan and I in a book. Then I'm starting to talk about now, there is a little bit of tech involved and that can be scary for some of us. So if you want to know the best simplest tech tools to choose for your online business, I have a free gift for you. It's my personal tech resource guide. These are the actual tech tools that I use in my own business. These are the tools that I recommend to my clients. Most of them are low cost, some of them are actually free. So they're really designed to get you started with the online marketing piece of your business, even if you're not techie. And even if you're on a budget and if you want to grab my personal tech resource guide, you can do that over at kathryncalhouncoaching.com/resource. That's a gift that actually exists, and that's an example of a call to action.
That's fantastic. And that is a great example that is so funny. You turn this interview all the way around on its head because we usually talk about contacting and gifts further down, but that's okay. Why not do things a little differently? I want you to talk a little bit more about this idea of how to make things simple in the tech world, because it is scary and people are scared of doing things incorrectly and what should they know and what they shouldn't know. Obviously, that tool chest that you're offering is going to be invaluable. We'll put that in the show notes for you as well. So people, if they haven't got something to write with at the moment, we'll put that in. So don't worry listeners, it'll be there for you. So let's go down that techie road and talk to us more about that.
If you're putting calls to action in your book, and you're thinking about the next step, what's the next step that I want somebody to take with me? Then, first of all, I want to make sure that you realize that what you're actually doing here is you are building a business around your book, instead of trying to build a business out of your book, you are using your book as a tool, as a catalyst, as yet a really awesome marketing platform from which to grow an actual business. So these are courses that you could put together. These are other books that people could buy. You could do live coaching with people. There are all kinds of different things that you can do to be able to allow people to take the next step with you. Now, as far as the tech piece, how do we keep this really, really simple?
This is important. It's a very important question. I'm glad we're talking about this, Susan, because oftentimes the problem with tech, especially if tech feels a bit overwhelming to us is that there are so many different things we can do. There are websites, and there are courses and there are launches and there are webinars and there are social media and Facebook lives. I mean the social media piece, there's like a dozen different social media platforms. And it starts to feel like we have to be running off in a bunch of different directions and it can be incredibly overwhelming, even if you were super great with the tech, it can be incredibly overwhelming, just that big, long to-do list. But if you see that overwhelming to-do list and the tech is not your strong suit, then it starts to feel just completely impossible. The solution to that is to really focus on the one piece of tech that you actually really need. And that is growing your email list.
The good news about growing an email list is that you don't need 50 different tools to do it. You just need one tool. The premise behind growing an email list, especially in the context of growing an email list from your book, you put together some kind of an invitation, like a call to action, like we were talking about. Then people say, "Okay, great. That sounds interesting. I would like to have that. And they're willing to give you their name and their email address in exchange for that little piece of content." The way that the tech works is somebody puts in their name and their email address. They get onto your email list and then your email list tool automatically delivers whatever the thing is that they signed up for.
So for example, one of the things that I've seen authors do very successfully is if you are explaining something and there is some sort of a tutorial video or a how-to video, a demonstration that you could do. I have seen this done very successfully in books where authors will say if you would like to see a video demonstration of the thing that I'm talking about here, head on over to my website slash video or whatever. That's where you can sign up to have those videos sent to you. The good news is that you only have to do this one time, it's all automated. You basically set up your email marketing tool so that you can say, "Okay, so when somebody goes to this page and they give me their information, I want my email marketing tool to send them this little gift thing that I put together." And you set it up the one time and then you never have to do it again.
It lends itself really well to entrepreneurs who want to have books or authors who want to build a business around their book because a printed book is not something that can be easily or quickly changed, right? If there are pieces of your book that you want to update, if you decide that you want to go back later and change something, it's a little bit of a challenge to do that. Not impossible, but not the easiest thing either. It's really, really great if the calls to action that you sprinkle throughout your book are what we call evergreen, meaning that they're not related to some specific time of year or some specific date that's going to pass. It's just something that is going to be valuable to people, regardless of when they pick up your book. They get to see those calls to action, they get interested and excited about the things that you're inviting them to check out. And then they get onto your email list.
As far as keeping the tech piece really, really simple, especially if you're not very techie, focusing on your email list is the best, best, best thing that you can do. A lot of times I will have people say to me, "Well, what about a website? Don't I need a website? What about social media? Don't I need social media?" It's not that those things are bad. I'm on social media. I have a website. Those things are not bad, but just like a book where this whole idea of, if you build it, they will come just like a book, how that doesn't work, it's the same thing with a website. And it's the same thing with your social media platforms. It's not enough to just put it up there and then hope that somebody is going to find you somehow. You need to be more proactive about that marketing piece.
So when you start to grow an email list, that is an asset, just like your book, that's an asset that your business owns. So if you're trying to market on social media, you're on Facebook for example, you are totally subject to whatever Facebook decides it wants to do with your post, whether it's going to show it to anybody or not. Once upon a time, there were people who grew their businesses on Myspace, which was kind of the big social media platform before Facebook. For those of you who remember Myspace, once Facebook came out, Myspace very quickly became obsolete. And anybody who had tried to build their visibility on Myspace had to start from scratch. It's hard to imagine something like that happening to Facebook, but that's sort of the nature of social media, right? There are new platforms coming out all the time and it's risky to build your business on somebody else's platform.
That's why having an email list is so vital because it is yours. It's an asset that belongs to you. And it is something that is transportable. It's something that grows with you. And what it really does is it gives you a group of people who are interested in what it is that you do. So that if you do write another book or you put a course together, or you want to offer some kind of a package or something like that, you want to put something on sale, you actually have people to make that offer to you. You don't have to guess about where your prospects are hanging out, because you already know where they are and that's your email list.
That's fantastic because the whole idea as you say, is risky, sort of putting all your eggs in one basket and having all these hundreds and thousands of followers on social media, and then what would happen to social media. And I often say, what happens if Facebook goes down, if it goes away if they start charging you and you don't have the funds necessary to pay for it? You lose all those people. The same with your books, you don't know who's buying your books on Amazon. So you really want to get control of this because as you rightly say, you can then market to them. That's your asset and that's invaluable growing that email list. So I'm thrilled that you touched on that piece. Let's talk about a few more mistakes that you see authors make.
It's not just authors, it's entrepreneurs in general. Like we were talking about earlier with this idea around trying to build a business out of your book, instead of building a business around your book. I'm an avid writer. I love writing. I grew up writing. I did a degree in English. I had a copywriting business once upon a time. I think a lot of us, especially if we're passionate about writing, we have these grand plans to become published authors and earn a living that way. And like we touched on earlier, it's not that's impossible, but it's not easy. And as self-publishing has just exploded over the last decade or 15 years or so, true that having your own published book is a much easier thing to do than it was once upon a time. The money piece still doesn't flow as easily.
It's really important to me that authors don't just hang their hats on this dream of, "I just want this book and that's it." It's really, really helpful if you start to do the things that we were talking about, just like building and some things about, "Okay, well, what's going to come next? What's the rest of the information that I can give people? What are some next steps that I can give people so that you get to start to have additional avenues to monetize your business?" When it comes to building your business online, I think the biggest thing that I really like to impress upon my clients as much as I possibly can is how very important it is for us to do these things that we're talking about, these marketing pieces. So much of the time I will hear authors and entrepreneurs say things like, "I just want to focus on what I'm good at, I don't want to do this marketing part." Or, "I love what I do. I love what I teach, but I hate the selling part."
The thing that I always try to inspire people to keep in mind is that if you decide that you want to build a business around a book, or even if you decide that you want to be just a rich and famous author on your book alone, if that's the big dream for you, or if you just want to build a business, whether there's a book involved or not, the marketing piece is a non-negotiable and so is the tech piece. So this is another thing too, is I have a lot of people who come to me who struggle with the tech stuff, because that's my jam. That's what I do in my business. So often I will hear this very common refrain of, "I love what I do. I hate the techie stuff. I don't want to focus on the tech. I want to have this online business, I do not want to have to think about the tech stuff."
The truth is if you want to have an online business figuring out the tech part of it is a non-negotiable. It's the same thing with marketing, marketing and tech are non-negotiables in an online business. Oftentimes I will get asked, "Well, is it possible? Can I just hire it out? Can I just hire a social media manager? Can I just hire a marketing person? Can I just hire a virtual assistant or a tech person?" It's not that you can't do that. But the thing is a lot of times I will hear, and this is something that is perhaps a little bit controversial for some people who are listening, because it's very common to go, "Well, if it's outside of your zone of genius, just hire it out."
That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's important that you actually understand what exactly you need. If you're going to hire somebody, you need to understand what exactly you need and how to tell if the person that you're considering hiring can do that or not. And also how to measure whether or not they're doing a good job. There's a real quick story. When we were renovating our 110 year old house in New Jersey, we hired a plumber to help us put a bathroom in the basement. We didn't know what we were doing. He was the cheapest quote. So that should have been a red flag right there. But we went with the cheapest quote. Every time he came to the house, it was like, "Oh, no, unforeseen emergency. I need 1500 more dollars unforeseen emergency. I need 500 more dollars, a thousand more dollars."
This just went on and on and on. And we finally got wise and fired him, but the problem was he's telling us things and we just we don't speak plumbing. So we had no way to tell. So if you're going to have an online business and there's these pieces that you don't know how to do, it's not that you can't hire it out, but you need to make sure that you at least have a foundational understanding of what it is that you need so that you can be hiring the right people. So in my community, my strong preference is to actually educate you so that you understand the foundations of marketing, so that you understand the tech stuff. And the cool thing is that, first of all, once you understand it, it's not this big mystery, right?
It actually becomes something you can totally do by yourself. Then if you do choose to hire it out, you are empowered to choose the right people so that's not just more money that's going down the drain. And that's something that's really important to me. Inside of my membership program, you mentioned it earlier, the Clarity Momentum Success Mastermind, we're all about just keeping you moving. One of the best things you can do to keep yourself moving is to prevent yourself from making those big mistakes, like hiring the wrong person and going down this random garden path that just isn't leading you where you actually need to go.
Susan Friedmann: So that's a great segue into telling our listeners how they can find out more about your mastermind and your membership site. And just take it away. I know you talked about the toolkit and we'll put that in the show notes, but what else do they need to know about you and your business?
Kathryn Calhoun: Oh, sure. So the Clarity Momentum Success Mastermind is my signature program for entrepreneurs who want to be able to DIY a really simple online business on a budget even if they are not good with the techie stuff, it's totally a mouthful, right? Clarity, momentum, success is a lot of words. They are long words. We all call it CMS for short. So you don't have to say that the whole time, once you're on the inside. But the reason we call it CMS is because I really believe that when you have some clarity, then you get to start moving in the right direction as start to move in the right direction. Then that's when you get to start to build momentum, right? Because you're not all over the map, you're not starting something and then stopping and then trying something else and then stopping that. And this is half done and that's half done. You just get to take the right steps in the right direction.
Then the S, the success part of it is like... The cool thing about success is that it's not a destination. It's actually just sort of the inevitable natural consequence of being in momentum. You have the clarity, you start to be able to build momentum off of that clarity. And the success just starts to happen as you stay in momentum, our focus in the CMS mastermind is really on going deep on these marketing pieces, making sure that you understand the marketing stuff you need to be doing and which stuff you get to skip, right? So that you're not getting overwhelmed. You're not feeling spread way too thin. And then also the tech pieces that go along with it. The reason that CMS was born was because of my own experiences, going through all kinds of different programs for online entrepreneurs, everything from $200 programs to like a hundred thousand-dollar programs and up where they're teaching you these incredible strategies.
And it's not that those aren't valuable, they're incredibly valuable strategies, how to do webinars, how to speak on stages, how to put together a course, those kinds of things. But the piece that was always missing was the tech piece. Where do I click inside of which tools to actually do the thing that you just taught me? If you have a background in tech, you can figure it out. If you have unlimited resources to throw at the problem of figuring out your tech, you can potentially hire it out. I found so many entrepreneurs were just slipping through the cracks because that tech piece, it just was never clear. So the Clarity Momentum Success Mastermind was really born out of a desire to just make that very, very clear. Even if you're not a techie person, this is all stuff that I had to figure out too.
Like I was alluding to, with my book thing, with my wedding blog, I did everything in completely the wrong order. It's a lot of hard won lessons, but now I just have this lovely community of entrepreneurs who are all walking the same path of just figuring out what they need to do next, understanding the tech piece that they need to do it, getting all of the hand holding that they need to actually be empowered to actually get it done. So no more getting stuck. And they're having awesome results inside of the community, just because they finally have the support with that missing piece of marrying the marketing strategies with the actual tech requirements of being able to bring those strategies to life.
Susan Friedmann: That's wonderful. Is there a website they should go to?
Kathryn Calhoun: Yeah. If you want to check it out, it actually depends on when you're listening to this podcast. Usually the doors to the Clarity Momentum Success Mastermind are not open all the time, but I do offer, we call it our free techie stuff, made simple masterclass. I offer that a couple of times a year, and that goes deeper into all of the stuff that we're talking about. And it also invites you into my membership program. So if you want to check that out, we have a waitlist for that. And the link for that one is kathryncalhouncoaching.com/waitlist. And then you'll just get notified the next time we're opening the doors to CMS.
Susan Friedmann: Perfect. And again, I'll put that all in the show notes, Kathryn, so people can go in and do that. And I checked it out beforehand and I got to get myself on the waitlist Because I want to definitely try that course out. And if you were to leave our listeners with a golden nugget, what would that be?
Kathryn Calhoun: The most important thing I want you to know is that you are more than what you're good at. You are more than if you're a life coach or you have a product
-based business, or you're an author, you are those things and that's awesome. Also, if you want to have a business that's connected to that, you also want to make sure that you're not just putting on your genius hat, you're also putting on your CEO hat. It's very important that you also claim that role of CEO, not just teacher or not just expert, because once you do that, that's when you actually get to have a platform to be able to share that genius that you have with as many people as you want to, but it doesn't happen until you go, you know what? Yes, I'm good at what I do. And I'm also the CEO of this business and I'm going to do what it takes to bring it to life and to bring my brilliance to as many people as possible.
Susan Friedmann: You've done that so beautifully for us, Kathryn, thank you so much. You're a genius in terms of being able to share this so simply was brilliant. We thank you. Thank you all for taking time out of your precious day to listen to this interview. I sincerely hope that it sparks some ideas you can use to sell more books. Here's wishing you much book marketing success.